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The Animal Sexes as Historical Explanatory Kinds

Franklin-Hall, Laura (2020) The Animal Sexes as Historical Explanatory Kinds. Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. ISSN 9781138825772


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Though biologists identify individuals as ‘male’ or ‘female’ across a broad range of animal species, the particular traits exhibited by males and females can vary tremendously. This diversity has led some to conclude that cross- animal sexes (males, or females, of whatever animal species) have “little or no explanatory power” (Dupré,
1986, p. 447) and, thus, are not natural kinds in any traditional sense. This chapter will explore considerations for and against this conclusion, ultimately arguing that, properly understood, the animal sexes are “historical explanatory kinds,” groupings that can be scientifically significant even while their members differ radically in both their current properties and their particular histories. Whether this makes them full- fledged natural kinds is a question I take up at the very end.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Franklin-Hall, Lauralrf217@nyu.edu0000-0002-4518-1357
Keywords: Sex, Sexes, Natural Kinds, Historical Kinds, Classification
Depositing User: Laura Franklin-Hall
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2020 16:02
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 16:02
Item ID: 18495
Journal or Publication Title: Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Routledge
Official URL:
Date: 2020
ISSN: 9781138825772

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